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Eduardo Garrido


Plaza de la Constitución, 2, 26339 Ábalos, La Rioja, Spain




Let's Meet Bodegas Eduardo Garrido

The N-232a national highway begins at a nondescript roundabout barely 1 km north of Haro, La Rioja. Yet it's the kind of beautiful drive on which foreigners often lose all sense of reality and fancy themselves converting old bodegas into pastoral palaces like Diane Lane did in Under the Tuscan Sun.

It's understandable. The Sierra Cantabrian mountains rise up dramatically on the left and vineyard plantings stretch for as far as the eye can see to the south, butting up against the river Ebro. The N-232a carries its passengers from one medieval town to the next, each town proud of their own famous winery, or three, or five. Read on…

I came to the town of Ábalos early one afternoon during the grape harvest. Tractors pulling flat beds stacked high with empty crates own the roads at this time of year. The wineries are revolving doors of grapes coming to be destemmed and crushed in preparation for fermentation and trucks heading back out again for more. It is a constant race against time since the grapes start oxidizing as soon they're pulled from the vines.

There was an awful lot of frenzy for such a slow-paced part of the world. I entered a bar and asked the bartender for a glass of crianza wine. Crianza means raising or upbringing. With regard to winemaking in Rioja, a wine labeled crianza has been aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrel (whether French or American is up to the winemaker to decide) and then also a minimum of one year in bottle. I consider it a good baseline to judge a winemaker's hand in Rioja. It has not had the luxury of time or oak as in a reserva or gran reserva whose wines are rich and weighty. The young, fruity joven wines are pressed, fermented and bottled the following spring and so are not by default nuanced expressions of a winemaker's abilities. The crianza requires a special touch. It is not all fruit, nor all oak. You have to be a experienced to produce a great crianza.

He opened the door and looked like everyone's favorite Spanish grandfather. I commended him on the glass I had just had and he spoke quietly about the vines they had been tending since the early 1920s. He told me how some years they used more or less garnacha (grenache) in the tempranillo blends and how the vines around Ábalos produced especially high-acid fruit and therefore elegant wines. He spoke of the iron-rich clay soils and the non-interventionist ethos like a bedtime story. His wines were not filtered or subject to stabilization. Would foreigners understand if there were posos in a bottle? Yes, I thought I could explain the sediment, I assured him.

That was all fine, but did I have time to see the museum above the winery? Well, yes, yes I did have time.

We crept up the stairs to the attic. Strewn about the place were relics from winemaking past. Old, hand-stitched leather shoes. Harnesses and saddles. Grape presses, newspaper articles and guerra civil uniforms. There were hoes, measuring devices and many items did not recognize. Then we went downstairs to the cellar.

The Garrido crianza spends 16 months in French and American oak and then another six months settling in bottle. It usually receives 90-93 points from various wine critics. Because of Garrido use of French and American oak, it is defined as Rioja modern-classical. These are younger, rounder wines that highlight Rioja fruit and cask age (Garrido ages for six months longer than required by law) then develop nicely in bottle. Other modern-classical Riojano producers are Bodegas Muga, Contino, and CVNE of Haro.

After Mr. Garrido led me on a tour of his museum and bodega, I thanked him for making his wines and told him I'd do my best to tell people of his story.

Wines

Viticulture / Vinification

Harvested by hand.


Sorting table used.


Parcels cultivated:


El Negral, la Parada, la Majada, el Molar, Matahombres, and BarcoAbraham.

Gallery